1. Kauai County has a no plastic bag ordinance.
Some hotels or vacation rentals will provide reusable bags. If not, you will have the option of purchasing one for a small fee, around $0.50 each for reusable bags upon checkout. Most retailers will provide paper bags or alternatives, so save them to be reused throughout the trip. Also, it is advised that you bring a Hydroflask so you don't have to purchase plastic water bottles. A Hydroflask is a stainless steel water bottle that keeps water or drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 6 hours. They come in many different sizes; There is even a 12 ounce "keiki size" for little hands. Hydroflasks have become part of the lifestyle of Kauai.
2. Monk seals, sea turtles, and the Nene goose are protected by law; Keep your distance.
3. It's hard to get lost.
You will gain confidence in your navigational abilities on Kauai. Highway 50 is the main road that runs all the way from Ha'ena to Polihale. Additionally, you have your cell phone for GPS. So get out of that hotel room and go explore! You should know that you cannot circle the Island of Kauai in a car as the Napali Cliffs block access. The farthest you can go North is to Ke'e beach, where the entrance to the Kalalau Trailhead is. The westernmost point is Polihale beach.
4. You will need to a rent a car.
Although Kauai is a small island, towns are far apart. If you want to explore the different sides of the island and experience all that Kauai has to offer, you will need a car.
5. We drive with Aloha.
Overtaking cars doesn't help to get you where you need to go any faster. Besides that, most of the island is a two lane road which increases the danger not just for you, but for others on the road. Also, relatively speaking residents of Kauai do not use their horns.
6. We have traffic too.
You will experience some traffic through Kapaa town and near the tunnel of trees in the early morning and around 3-5 in the afternoon. This is mainly because many are commuting to work or school. The afternoon traffic is called Pau Hana traffic, as residents head home after work.
7. The only major chain retail stores are Walmart, Kmart, Costco, and Long's Drugs.
These stores carry relatively the same type of merchandise that you would find on the mainland. They do not overly stock summer products and beach essentials. They do tend to offer Hawaii based products like coffees, chocolates, and souvenirs. Renting snorkel gear can get expensive. You could buy gear from these stores, nonetheless if you want specialty items like a full face snorkel mask, the selection is limited. This is especially true if looking for a full face snorkel mask for a child. It is best to bring your own. Also, puddle jumpers are only stocked seasonally. Puddle jumpers are less restrictive than life vests and are better for toddlers. If you want something unique, check out the local shopping. There are a plethora of local boutiques, art galleries, and surf stores.
8. There are tons of "cheap eats" options.
Groceries are expensive and eating out at restaurants can get pricey. However, you can mix it up and be creative with "cheap eats" options. Kauai's cusine is diverse as there are many different ethnicities represented in Hawaii's melting pot. Explore the food trucks, local restuarants, and mom & pop stores for "cheap eats". You may be pleasantly surprised with the culinary expertise and this will also allow you to dive into local culture.
9. Rash Guards are not just for surfers.
It is recommended that you should purchase a rash guard to wear at the beach, especially for your children. Most of these have a SPF of 50 built into them. We have witnessed lots of people who can not enjoy their vacation because of sunburn. Apply sunscreen before you get to the beach and reapply after swimming. Local Surf stores do carry a good selection but it is often hard to find sizes for infants or children ages 2 and below.
10. "You stay on Hawaiian Time"
Slow Down and respect the pace of living. Plan, but don't over plan. Keep calm. There is no need to rush. Breathe the rich oxygen filled air and enjoy the natural beauty that Kauai has to offer. Remember that you are on vacation, and really there is no where you need to be.
Kauai with Keiki is a resource for visitors to Kauai who are bringing children, given from a L.O.C.A.L perspective, Loving Our Community and Lifestyle.